Soccer: Oscar silences his critics with command performance
By Andrew Downie
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil midfielder Oscar swiftly silenced his doubters with a commanding performance in the opening win over Croatia which established him as a key player in his team's bid to win the World Cup for a record sixth time.
Neymar took the man-of-the-match award for his two goals in the 3-1 victory but if Brazil's leading striker was the soloist, Oscar was the conductor.
His tenacity in midfield won the ball for Neymar to drive on and score the first goal and it was his pass to Fred that led to the dubious penalty which brought the second.
Oscar wrapped up the win with a well-taken goal in stoppage time, capping an all-round display which had the critics purring.
"Oscar, whose presence has been questioned because of discreet showings in recent friendlies, put in a mature performance," said Alvaro Oliveira Junior, a columnist with Lance! sports newspaper.
"He marked, he set up others, he got forward, and he was rewarded at the end with the third goal. FIFA chose Neymar as the man of the match and that wasn't unfair but if Oscar had won that wouldn't have been unfair either."
The 22-year old attempted twice as many dribbles as his next-highest team mate Neymar and only Marcelo was fouled more times.
The gala performance was surprising because the 22-year-old Chelsea player had been out of form in recent months. Continued...